Skip to Content
Kim's Column

Phone call pro trick, TV spies, Facebook Portal, and more: Tech Q&A

Each week, I receive tons of questions from my listeners about tech concerns, new products and all things digital.

Sometimes, choosing the most interesting questions to highlight is the best part of my job.

This week, I received questions about Facebook Portal, smart displays, speeding up a smartphone, and more.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me?

Tap or click here to email me directly.

Beat your cell signal

Q: The cellular reception at my home is spotty or nonexistent. How can I still make calls when this happens? There’s got to be a way, and I know you know it!

A: Your home is often the worst place to make calls; thick walls, certain building materials and other electronic devices can easily interfere with your signal. So what do you do? An easy solution is to log onto the nearest Wi-Fi signal. Many smartphone users are unaware that they can harness Wi-Fi to make phone calls, depending on the model of their phone and the carrier they use.

This is a great trick, and it’s something you might consider anyway, especially if you have a limited plan. But making Wi-Fi calls isn’t always an intuitive process, so you should learn precisely how to employ it. Tap or click here for the steps on how to make a cell phone call when you have bad cell or no cell service.

Everybody loves mail

Q: My father used to forward me your free newsletters, and I loved the alerts and tips. How can I sign-up myself?

A: I’m so glad your father shared my newsletters with you. Luckily, these newsletters are free and you can easily subscribe in minutes. My newsletters come in every variety, catering to your particular interests, and they arrive at different intervals, so you can decide how many you want to receive.

You can also mix and match as much as you want; if you’re an entrepreneur who loves peculiar corners of the internet, you can subscribe both to “Online Finds” (sent daily) and “Small Biz Tips” (weekly). Breaking News Alerts (as it happens) and Tips (Daily) are the most popular, though. Tap or click here to subscribe to my free newsletters.

Smartphone speed-up

Q: I can’t afford a new smartphone. Is there anything I can do to make this one last longer? It’s so slow now!

A: Start by deleting apps. I know, I know – we love our apps. We love our games and camera filters and social media networks. Or maybe you already know that unused apps are taking up space and processing power, but you have so many apps that you don’t even want to bother sifting through them.

Understand, a cluttered phone isn’t always the problem; malware and an older operating system can also slow things down. Even the way you treat your battery can affect your phone’s efficiency. Tap or click here to learn more about smartphone maintenance.

Smart TV spies

Q: Did I hear you, right? My smart TV is also watching and tracking me! How can I make that stop?

A: There is strong evidence that smart TVs can be hacked, and that cyber-criminals can watch every activity in your living room. But there’s another kind of spy you should be aware of, tech companies. Thanks to a thing called “automatic content recognition,” or ACR, the smart TV will catalog everything you watch and send reports back to manufacturers and data partners.

The idea is to create targeted advertising, which is already all over the internet, but most people find this practice very unsettling. Tap or click here to learn how your TV may be monitoring you and how to make it stop.

The skinny on smart displays

Q: I see ads on TV for the Facebook Portal video screen. How does it compare to the Amazon Echo Show or Nest Hub?

A: This whole trend started with the Echo Show. Amazon’s Echo speakers had exploded in popularity, and the Show was their chance to incorporate a video screen as well. Amazon has refined its design – and introduced the adorable Echo Spot – while other developers catch up with the concept. Now there’s Nest Hub and, yes, the Facebook Portal.

You will have to decide whether its impressive camera is worth it to you. As you may know, I have become extremely critical of Facebook as a company. I can’t promise that the Portal won’t collect data on you since privacy is a significant concern. But to keep things fair, you would probably benefit from a side-by-side comparison. Hit my site for that. Tap or click here to learn more about smart displays.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or, tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Komando.com App background

Check out the free Komando.com App!

Get the latest tech updates and breaking news on the go, straight to your phone, with the Komando.com App, available in the Apple Store and Google Play Store.

Download Now